The Worthing cyclist was in his 30s, fit and healthy, but a clot became lodged in a major artery, causing the attack.
Lack of oxygen at the scene left Justin with massive irreversible brain damage but he is fighting back and now a crowdfunding campaign has been launched on JustGiving to raise £30,000 towards his treatment and to help the family.
Wife Angela, 35, said: “It’s been six months since that awful day and he’s doing well. We are learning that recovery from a brain injury is a long, unpredictable road and there isn’t a doctor alive who can give any indication as to what the final destination will be.
“But we do know that those initial discussions about what he’d ‘never’ be able to do were rubbish.”
After three years of trying for a baby, and three rounds of IVF, Justin and Angela found out on August 8 last year they were expecting identical twins. On August 12, just four days later, he had the cardiac arrest.
Angela is expecting the twins at the end of the month and says Justin has been able to help decide on the names.
She said: “He is awake, he recognises his friends and family, and he can talk. His sense of humour is very much alive and well, and his long-term memory is mostly okay.
“There are days where he forgets he’s married, or forgets other parts of life, but there are days where he remembers it all. He is learning to walk again with much assistance from physiotherapists, learning to eat food again rather than being fed via the PEG tube directly into his stomach.
“He can also learn new information, he’s learned he’s going to be a daddy, that he is having twins, and that they are identical girls. He’s also helped to decide on names for them both, and remembers these on a good day too. There are so many positives now.”
Justin, 36, was an avid off-road mountain bike rider, regularly cycling around 60 miles cross-country a week. He ate healthily, rarely drank alcohol and never smoked.
Initially the prognosis was good, as he had excellent CPR administered immediately, effective medication at the scene and a stent fitted that evening.
But it soon became apparent the brain was not doing as well as the heart. Justin failed to wake up from sedation and six hours later, doctors told the family he had massive irreversible brain damage, as the blood clot had prevented the CPR from being effective.
Angela said: “It was suggested he would never make any sort of recovery. We were told that total paralysis and 24/7 care were the best we could hope for, that he wouldn’t regain consciousness.
“Well, he’s proving them all wrong. It’s been almost six months since that awful day, and he’s doing well.”
The next challenge is to work on Justin’s short-term memory, understanding and emotions, and he will soon be moved to a specialist rehabilitation centre.
Angela said: “There are days where he gets so distressed he needs to be sedated. His short-term memory is so poor on some days that he can ask the same question three times in a minute, and repeat this for 12 hours solid.
“He doesn’t always understand why he’s there, thinks there’s nothing wrong and gets upset he can’t come home yet. We need to address all these issues and more if he is to have any chance of eventually coming home and being a family with his wife and twins as he always wanted to.”
The family has already raised more than £5,000 to help fund the travel costs. They also want to buy a wheelchair-accessible car and fund specialist treatments not covered by the NHS.
Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/justinandhistwins to make a donation.